READ LUKE TWO
To those of us who have attended Sunday school classes – or have read these words during a church service – we easily remember the account of the birth of Jesus. The first twenty one verses are often the key part of the nativity of our Savior.
Luke sets the stage beautifully, along some commentary about what’s going on in the world at this time. Caesar Augustus was emperor and sent out a decree to for a census to be taken. The people were all to gather in the land of their ancestors and be counted. We hear about the huge numbers of people in the little town of Bethlehem – the birthplace of Mary and Joseph’s relative, King David. There was not a room for them, so they stayed in an animal stable – their only shelter from the elements – and the place where Jesus would be born.
The story continues out in the fields, where we find shepherds resting after a hard day of herding the sheep and finding lush pastures for them to munch on. The sky always seems to be filled with the brilliance of the galaxy lighting it in a most glorious way. As they were nodding off, the angels appeared to them and told them that their Savior had been born. Can you imagine the sight and sound? Hundreds, maybe thousands, of angelic voices singing praises to God and lighting up the sky with a luster only God can create.
The angels told them a star would guide them to the place where would find baby in a manger, wrapped with snuggly strips of cloth to keep Him warm. Just a tiny baby –born like every one of us, but completely free from sin. Angels came to worship. Lowly shepherds were personally invited to be a part of it. So we know that Jesus came for all people. This tiny child was born to be our equal and to bear the sin of the world on His back.
Like the angels and shepherds, we sing for this glorious birth – Joy to the World, the Lord has come.
The next section deals with the time eight days later as Jesus is taken to the temple to be circumcised and named. Mary and Joseph took their son, at the time of purification to follow the law of Moses. He was named Jesus. They offered a sacrifice of two pigeons as well to complete the obligation of the law. Someday, Jesus would become the only sacrifice acceptable to God.
While at the temple, the priest, Simeon took the child in his arms and raised his voice in thanksgiving for being able to see the Messiah – to hold him tightly – to know that the law of God was fulfilled through this tiny baby. The prophetess, Anna, also held her Savior in her arms. The words spoken that day, must’ve made a deep impression on Mary. She would tuck them tightly into her heart so she could call on them when necessary. There would be many of those times.
The next session talks about how Jesus was preaching in the temple as a young twelve year older and his parents left town, thinking Jesus was already in the caravan returning home. When discovered missing they quickly returned to Jerusalem and found Him. Often we lose track of Jesus too. We walk away from Him, thinking we can go it alone, but soon discover how necessary He is in our lives.
The last verse gives us all the information about Jesus childhood that we need to hear. Last year I did a series on the early life of Jesus – THE YEARS IN BETWEEN – there are nine installments for you to read if you wish.